Learning to love my body

Learning to love my body

I remember the first time someone told me I had “curves.” I was in eighth grade hanging out with my three best friends after an afternoon of shopping. We were all trying on the clothes we’d bought, and while showing off my new jeans my friend said “Shelly, you’ve got curves!” I remember immediately assuming it was a bad thing. “Is that…good?” I asked hesitantly. “Yes! I wish I had curves! I have no hips and no butt, my body basically looks like a boy’s still! You’re so lucky!” I was genuinely baffled by this. I thought my friend’s body was perfect. I wished I looked like her. To me, she was perfect. But evidently, to her, I was perfect.

In high school I started to accept, and even like, my curves. But I started to worry I wasn’t “proportionate” enough. I had big hips and a big butt and a tiny waist like J Lo and Kim Kardashian, but they had big boobs and mine were small. I remember reading magazines giving advice on “dressing for your body type” and I didn’t feel I fit into any of the categories they provided. The “petite” girls were shorter and skinnier than me. The “athletic” girls were taller and more toned. Even “curvy”, a word I had grown to accept for myself, didn’t quite fit. Those girls were bigger than me. Was there something wrong with my body? I just wanted to fit into a “body type”, to feel like I belonged, to feel like my body was accepted by society. The problem with that was a magazine could never tell me I’m beautiful. Society is never going to give me the validation I craved. And even if it could, it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t see it for myself.

When I got to college I started seeking validation from a different source: guys. I started dating and getting more attention from boys and I figured, “If all these guys are interested in me and wanting to date me, my body must look pretty good!” But then when I would experience any sort of rejection, I’d wonder if things would be different if my boobs were bigger or my legs longer or my hips narrower. Just like seeking validation from magazines, seeking validation from others wasn’t really working for me either.

Over the past couple of years I’ve gained a little bit of weight. When I see pictures of myself from college, I find myself thinking “Wow I was so skinny back then! I look so much older and bigger now. Why didn’t I appreciate what I had back then?!” I’ve spent so much time wishing I could look the same as I did when I was in college, even though I’m approaching 27 and I’m a completely different person than I was back then. I’m not the same on the inside, so why should I expect to look the same on the outside? It wasn’t until recently that I started to finally have a new perspective on my body. I started trying to appreciate it and love it for exactly what it is in this moment.

I don’t need my friends to tell me I should love my curves. I don’t need a magazine to tell me what kind of clothes I should wear. I don’t need some guy to tell me I have a hot body. None of that matters if I don’t love my body. If I don’t see it for what it is, which is more than an aesthetic object. My body is my own. My body allows me to pick up and hold and run and play with children all day. My body allows me to do yoga and go on walks and hikes and dance at weddings until my feet are sore. My body is beautiful for so much more than what it looks like. It may have taken me this long to realize it, and it may still be a struggle every day, but I am finally learning to love my body.

How to Stay Body Positive

How to Stay Body Positive

I was watching a YouTube video the other day, and in the video the YouTuber stated her weight. I looked through the comments and found many young girls saying things such as: “I’m only 14 and I weigh more than her” and asking if that was okay or if they were too big.

I replied to as many comments as I could, telling the girls that it isn’t healthy to compare yourself to others because every body is unique, and as long as you are healthy and happy it doesn’t matter what you weigh. But I know this message is easy to say and not quite as easy to believe.

I have definitely had my fair share of anxiety about the way my body looks, but I do feel I have learned some helpful tricks over the years to remain more body positive. Hopefully some of these tips will help those of you who might be struggling.

Stop comparing yourself to others

As I told the young girls commenting on the YouTube video, it does no good to judge yourself based on the standard others have set. Not only does it inevitably lead to negative thoughts, but it is not productive or logical. Every single person on this planet has a different body, and no matter how hard you try, yours will never look exactly like someone else’s, and you will be left feeling disappointed if you constantly covet another’s body type.

Do things that make you feel strong, healthy and confident

The healthier alternative to comparing yourself to others is to focus on your own mind and body, and do things that make you feel good. For me this includes taking a yoga class every week, going on walks at least three times a week, hiking in the greenbelt at least once a month, and going shopping or dressing up every once in a while to feel more confident.

Be nice to yourself

Next time you catch yourself criticizing your appearance, turn your thoughts to what you love about yourself instead. Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I try to think of something positive instead of immediately jumping to something negative. You can even pretend you’re complimenting someone else instead of yourself, if that helps! It’s much easier for us to find the beauty in others, for whatever reason.

Keep track of the compliments you receive from others

Speaking of complimenting others, another good trick is to take note of the compliments you receive, and be sure to repeat them to yourself when you’re feeling down. Whether it’s that you have nice nails (something one of my coworkers always tells me), or maybe even just that someone liked your outfit one day. Reminding ourselves of how others see us is very helpful when trying to stay body positive!.

I hope this helped you, or just added a little positivity to your Sunday night! Try these tips out this week and see how it changes the way you feel for the rest of the week. Also, if you’re looking for some general positivity tricks, check out my How To Stay Positive post.